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LIVING IN FRANCE

Inheritance tax to virtual reality: 6 essential articles for life in France

From health passes to inheritance tax via a virtual reality cathedral tour, here's our pick of the six articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

See inside Notre-Dame cathedral on a VR tour.
See inside Notre-Dame cathedral on a VR tour. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Life in France can be pretty blissful – like when you’re sampling a local crémant and watching the sun set over the Promenade Anglais – but there are also some stressful and difficult parts.

Whether it’s language struggles, bureaucracy wrangles or just feeling like you don’t belong, it’s not always easy being foreign in France.

That’s why we have put together these quick and simple tips that can make life a bit easier with minimal effort.

France has brought in some changes to the health pass which has rapidly become essential for everyday activities like meeting friends for a drink or going to see a film.

From January 15th, all over 18s need to get a booster dose no later than seven months after receiving their last Covid vaccine – if they want to carry on using the health pass. Up to 800,000 people could have their health pass deactivated on Saturday when this rule comes into force. Tourists over the age of 18 will also need to have had a booster dose to use the French health pass.

Unless you’re a French politics expert, you might not have heard of parrainage.

We asked our regular columnist John Lichfield to explain this aspect of France’s electoral system, and why it could sink the presidential bid of far-right media pundit, Éric Zemmour.

“Village mayors are the forgotten heroes and heroines of French politics, hard-working, little paid and frequently ignored,” writes John.

“Once every five years, however, the micro-bosses of tiny places – there are at least 30,000 of them – become the most flattered and sought-after politicians in France.”

Read John’s piece on how these officials could take Zemmour down below: 

If you enjoy following politics, France is certain to have plenty of drama over the next four months as the presidential election hots up.

So we’ve put together a guide to the French words and phrases you might need to follow the election campaign – from the technicalities of the process to why candidates might be talking about power-washers.

They say there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. But both could be getting a revamp in France. 

The French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has been flirting with the idea of reducing inheritance tax.  

We have used the occasion to write a handy guide on how the complex system of inheritance tax and succession rights work in France:

And on a cheerier note, a new virtual reality exhibition opens this weekend, allowing visitors to travel back in time to discover the history of Notre-Dame cathedral – from the 12th century up until now. During this 45-minute experience, visitors will be given a VR headset and witness key events in the cathedral’s story, meeting a number of historical characters along the way. 

The cathedral itself has remained largely closed to the public since being ravaged by a fire in 2019. You can read more about this project and watch a mind-blowing video in the story below. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

There's been plenty written on travel rules for people coming to France - but what if you live in France and have plans for international travel over the coming months? We've got you covered.

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

France isn’t currently on the Covid red list for any country, so there is nowhere that is barred to you as a French resident, but different countries still have different entry requirements.

EU/Schengen zone

If you’re travelling to a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone then it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’re fully vaccinated then all you need is proof of vaccination at the border – no need for Covid tests or extra paperwork. Bear in mind, however, that if your second dose was more than nine months ago you will need a booster shot in order to still be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

If you were vaccinated in France then you will have a QR code compatible with all EU/Schengen border systems. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, however, your home country’s vaccination certificate will still be accepted.

If you’re not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, check the individual country for requirements on how recent the test needs to be.

Bear in mind also that several EU countries still have mask/health pass rules in place and some countries specify the type of mask required, for example an FFP2 mask rather than the surgical mask more common in France. Check the rules of the country that you are travelling to in advance.

If you’re travelling to a country covered by The Local, you can find all the latest Covid rules in English on the homepages for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

UK

The UK has no Covid-related travel rules, so there is no requirement for tests even if you are not vaccinated. The passenger locator form has also been scrapped – full details HERE.

Once there, there are no Covid-related health rules in place. 

If you’re travelling between France and the UK, remember the extra restrictions in place since Brexit.

USA 

Unlike the EU, the USA still has a testing requirement in place, vaccinated or not. You would need to show this prior to departure.

It has, however, lifted the restrictions on non citizens entering, so travel to the USA for tourism and visiting friends/family is once again possible.

For full details on the rules, click HERE.

Once there, most places have lifted Covid-related rules such as mask requirements, but health rules are decided by each State, rather than on a national level, so check in advance with the area you are visiting.

Other non-EU countries

Most non-EU countries have also lifted the majority of their Covid related rules, but in certain countries restrictions remain, such as in New Zealand which is reopening its border in stages and at present only accepts certain groups.

Other countries also have domestic Covid restrictions in place, particularly in China which has recently imposed a strict local lockdown after a spike in cases.

Returning to France

Once your trip is completed you will need to re-enter France and the border rules are the same whether you live here or not.

If you’re fully vaccinated you simply need to show your vaccination certificate (plus obviously passport and residency card/visa if applicable) at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need to get a Covid test before you return and present the negative result at the border – the test must be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home-test kits are not accepted.

If you’re returning from an ‘orange list’ country and you’re not vaccinated you will need to provide proof of your ‘essential reasons’ to travel – simply being a resident is classed as an essential reason, so you can show your carte de séjour residency card, visa or EU passport at the border.

Even if the country that you are in is reclassified as red or orange while you are away, you will still be allowed back if you are a French resident. If you’re not a French passport-holder, it’s a good idea to take with you proof of your residency in France, just in case.

Fully vaccinated

France counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ those who:

  • Are vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a booster shot if more than 9 months has passed since the final dose of your vaccine. If you have had a booster shot there is no need for a second one, even if more than 9 months has passed since your booster
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna) are accepted 
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